Every year 80 players are allowed to be on NFL rosters at the start of training camp and the goal for everyone is to earn their way onto the final 53. Throughout camp, 49ers.com will highlight some of our newcomers and their Road to the Roster. Here’s the fifth installment of our Road to the Roster series with 49ers outside linebacker Diyral Briggs.
It’s hard enough to make a big impression when you’re an undrafted rookie vying for playing time in training camp.
But on two different occasions, undrafted rookie Diyral Briggs’ name was said by Takeo Spikes and Joe Staley when they were asked by the media which young player had impressed them the most in camp.
“To me, that’s an honor,” Briggs said. “The two of those guys noticing me, makes me know that I’m doing my job.”
The support from Spikes was especially meaningful to Briggs. Being a native of Cincinnati, Briggs grew up watching Spikes while he was playing with the Bengals.
“A guy like Takeo, I used to watch him play and now it’s great that I’m able to play next to him,” Briggs said. “For these guys to mention me, it makes me feel great. It makes me want to keep going a lot harder.”
Briggs will have one final opportunity this preseason to impress Spikes, Willis, but more importantly the 49ers coaching staff. After Friday’s game against the San Diego Chargers, the rosters will be reduced to the final 53.
The 6-4, 230-pound athletic linebacker, definitely caught the eyes of everyone when he intercepted a pass in one of the team’s joint practices with the Oakland Raiders.
“That’s the best thing that’s happened to me all of camp!” Briggs said that day. “I’m just happy I was able to show my hands!”
Before signing with the 49ers, Briggs was showing off all of his abilities at Bowling Green State University of the Mid-American Conference.
In college, Briggs built a reputation as a devastating pass rusher.
He was an All-Conference outside linebacker. Briggs also recorded 26 sacks in his college career, which is best in school history and good enough for eighth all-time in the MAC.
He was so dominant, Bowling Green had to hide him in their defensive alignment by lining him up in different positions each game.
But for all of his success, Bowling Green’s best pass rusher was passed over in the past NFL Draft.
When the time came to find a team interested in his services, Briggs’ style of play aligned perfectly with 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s 3-4 defense.
And while he’s been in camp with the 49ers, Briggs has made a strong impression on all those around him.
That’s something not every young player achieves.